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“During the first decade of the 21st century, film style changed profoundly.”
This, at least, is the thesis put forward by Matthias Stork in a series of highly controversial video essays that have circulated recently on the Internet. According to Stork, “Contemporary blockbusters, particularly action movies, trade visual intelligibility for sensory overload, and the result is a film style marked by excess, exaggeration and overindulgence: chaos cinema.”
In a series of film screenings, we would like to engage critically with Stork’s notion of chaos cinema. We shall begin by viewing Stork’s video essays themselves, before moving on to some of the films he discusses and others that exemplify and/or challenge the paradigm of chaos cinema.
For those interested, here are some links to useful background and discussion:
First, Stork’s thesis must be seen against the background of David Bordwell’s notion of “intensified continuity,” which is seen to mark a change from the classical Hollywood style that dominated American cinema from around 1920 until (at least) the 1960s. Chaos cinema, according to Stork, goes further in effecting a radical break with continuity principles, whether classical or intensified.
Another important context is Steven Shaviro’s book Post-Cinematic Affect, which introduced the term “post-continuity.” (A Google Books preview can be found here, but note that approximately two-thirds of the book appeared in the open access journal Film-Philosophy under the title “Post-Cinematic Affect: On Grace Jones, Boarding Gate and Southland Tales“.) More recently, Shaviro has returned to the topic and reflected explicitly on Stork’s notion of chaos cinema in a talk given at the 2012 annual conference of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, reprinted in full on his blog The Pinocchio Theory.
And here, finally, is the schedule of screenings (note that all screenings will be held in room 615 of the Conti-Hochhaus, at 6:00 pm):
April 26, 2012: “Chaos Cinema” (Matthias Stork, 2011)
May 24, 2012: Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000)
June 21, 2012: Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007)
July 5, 2012: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010)
July 19, 2012: WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)
Films will be shown in English original with subtitles where available. Screenings are open to all, so feel free to spread the word!